Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 14, 2013 4:00pm-5:21pm EDT

4:00 pm
address the underlying problems that are driving our deficit and our debt. as part of a debt ceiling agreement, we need to have savings and reforms that underlie -- that underlie our problem, our problem that we're spending more than we take in. we can't just raise the debt ceiling for another year at a trillion dollars in debt to the debt that we already have of $17 trillion. it's kind of like going to the bank. you know, when you go to the bank, you talk to the banker, you say hey, i want a loan. i want to increase the loan i have. i want to raise my credit limit. the banker would say to you, well, he may be willing to give you the loan, but he is going to say to you what are you going to do to address the underlying problem, the problem you have that you are spending more than you're taking in? what are you going to do to address that?
4:01 pm
and i'm pretty sure if you said to the banker, if you said well, i'm not going to do anything to address it, you might have a hard time getting the loan, right? and that's true whether you're a family, that's true whether you are a business, and that's true for the federal government. so let's put the necessary savings and reforms in place. the president in his budget identified more than $600 billion in changes and savings and reforms that he could support to mandatory spending programs. and we have talked to him about those time and again. now is the time to implement those savings and reforms to those mandatory spending programs. i'll give you an example of one that i have been hard at work on for the last two years. that's the farm bill. the farm bill is a mandatory spending program. i'm a member of the ag committee. we have worked hard on changes, on improvements, on actually strengthening the farm bill by
4:02 pm
strengthening crop insurance under the farm bill, which is what our farmers and ranchers want. and as we work through that, at the same time we have identified on the order of $25 billion to $30 billion in savings that we can generate by reforming the farm program. i'm a member of the conference committee on the senate side. the house has now appointed their conferees. we're ready to go. we're ready to resolve the differences between the house and the senate versions of the farm bill, and we can have a stronger form program and save billions of dollars. those are the kind of mandatory spending program reforms that we need to put in place as part of the debt ceiling agreement, and we need to find a common commitment, a bipartisan commitment and a commitment on the part of the administration as well as the congress to do that. we talk about addressing the debt ceiling, that's what it really means. it doesn't just mean raising the
4:03 pm
debt ceiling. it doesn't just mean borrowing more money. it means fixing the problem. so we need to act. we need to address the debt ceiling, we need to get government open, but we need to have a common commitment, a bipartisan commitment to solve the underlying problems, to get the reforms and the savings that will ensure that we aren't spending more than what we're taking in. and, of course, a big part of that is economic growth as well. we understand that, but you know what? the point where we truly come together in a bipartisan way -- and i would argue this is that point -- this is that time where we truly come together in a bipartisan way, i think the markets would react. i think business across this country would react, businesses large and small would react because the certainty of knowing we truly are dealing with our
4:04 pm
debt and deficit would give them the confidence to invest in -- and hire more people. not only bringing people back to work, reducing unemployment, but getting economic growth, economic growth that -- not by raising taxes but with economic growth, broadening and growing the base, generating revenue to help with our deficit and our debt. so i think by putting these commonsense reforms, these solutions, savings in place as part of this debt ceiling agreement, a commitment to do that on both sides of the aisle, we will help unleash the power of the strongest economy in the world and that economic growth will be a huge part of solving our deficit and our debt as well. and it's vitally important that we do it. it's vitally important that we do it. for the strength of our country, to get people back working, and most of all for our children and
4:05 pm
for future generations. i don't believe that there is anybody here in congress, in the senate, in the house or anywhere else that wants to leave our children a $17 trillion debt. so let's solve it. we can do it, and now's the time. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i also note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:06 pm
4:07 pm
4:08 pm
4:09 pm
the presiding officer: i ask that further proceedings under
4:10 pm
the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: so, mr. president, here we are. it's october 14. the government has been shut down for two full weeks. we're about three days away from a debt ceiling deadline. now i keep hearing rumors and things that a deal is close. i certainly hope that's true. that we do make some breakthroughs and that we get through this impasse. but i have some observations on that, and i thought i might take a moment to set the record straight from what i have been hearing over the weekend and some of the talk shows and some things that have come out over the weekend. in the last day or so, there was talk about democrats putting -- quote -- a new issue on the table, that democrats are now putting sequestration on the table in these talks. well, i don't know how anyone could think this is a new issue.
4:11 pm
in march, the senate approved a budget that replaced sequestration with a mix of entitlement reform and revenue increases. in april, the president put forward a budget that replaced sequestration with a mix of, again, spending cuts and revenue increases. throughout the spring and summer, the appropriations committee on which i serve debated and passed bills that conformed to the budget resolution, replacing sequestration. again, republicans in the house and the senate have taken part in this debate. republicans on the senate appropriations committee responded to the letter, objecting to our policy of replacing the sequestration cuts. the house passed its own budget, the ryan budget, which also takes their position on sequestration. they even made it worse, by
4:12 pm
preventing cuts in the military and taking all the rest of that out of nondefense discretionary spending -- i know that sounds like a big word, but it's spending that comes out of things like education and social services and health and n.i.h., the center for disease control and prevention, all those other things. now, again, we heard a lot of talk by republicans on the senate side that we, democrats, were violating the budget control act by coming in at a higher level than what sequestration called for. at the same time, the republicans on the house side violated the budget control act by not taking 50-50. in other words, the budget control act said that if sequestration goes into effect, then the cuts have to be made 50% from defense and 50% from
4:13 pm
nondefense. the ryan budget, what they did in the house, they left -- they left defense whole and took everything out of, as i said, everything else, mainly out of health, education, labor, that pot of money. so i guess what you would say is both sides violated the budget control act. no. both sides had their approach on how to deal with the budget control act. the budget control act is not the ten commandments written in stone for all eternity. it's a law. and when we have laws around here, periodically, guess what? we change them, we modify them. of course. so the budget control act was passed, the super committee was set up. it didn't get its goals, so sequestration went into effect, and now we have seen the disastrous consequences of sequestration for this year.
4:14 pm
and so those on my side of the aisle said well, look, it's time to get rid of sequestration, and let's make our decisions as legislators on how we want to spend the taxpayers' money and how we might want to raise revenues. republicans on the house side, i don't say that they violated anything. they just did their own thing. they said to heck with the budget control act. we don't want to take any money out of defense. we will leave that alone and take it out of everywhere else. then that would have been the proper time for the house and senate budget committees to get together in a conference so they could work out the differences. 19 times we have come to the floor to ask to go to conference on the budget, and 19 times the republicans have refused to let us go to conference, to even talk about it.
4:15 pm
so sequestration is the biggest difference between these two budgets. and i might add the budget that -- that mr. ryan came up with in the house, the chairman of the house appropriations committee, a republican, called it -- quote -- unworkable, for whatever that's worth. nonetheless, that sequestration is the biggest difference between our two budgets and that's why we asked to go to conference time and time again. so this idea that sequestration is some kind of new issue, it's not. mr. president, it is the issue of the year. it will be the issue of next year. do we blindly cut everything? that's what sequestration is. a blind cut of everything, even programs that everyone here might agree are worthwhile and should be funded. but that's what we're elected to do.
4:16 pm
we're elected to make those kinds of choices and to work them out in a conference committee. so again, if you think that sequestration is some kind of a new issue, i guess it's only a new issue if your memory is only two weeks long. if you know what's been going on for this year, sequestration is the major difference. now two weeks ago the senate democrats compromised tphaepbt to keep the -- compromised in an attempt to keep the government open. we agreed to keep the government open for six weeks -- at that time i think it was up to november 15 -- at the current levels that included the sequestration cuts. it was not in our budget, but we agreed to do that, to give us time before christmas to go to conference and work out the differences. we passed that bill. we passed that bill.
4:17 pm
and it was the same level that was included in the continuing resolution passed by the house of representatives. so get this, we agreed to compromise our level down to the house level for six weeks to keep the government open. we passed it here and sent it over to the house. it's been sitting there ever since. speaker boehner will not permit it to come on the floor for a vote. think about that. he won't even permit it to come on the floor for a vote. why? perhaps he knows if he brings it up for a vote, it will pass and the president will sign it. instead -- instead they began this whole thing, whole shutdown by saying we had to change it -- we had to change obamacare. we had to make changes in the
4:18 pm
affordable care act, which has nothing to do with this budget, by the way. well, again, that didn't work, so now they've shift add whole bunch of other things that they're demanding. so again, we've never really gone to conference. so what the republicans are now saying is we should give up a whole year. forget about the budget resolution we passed here and agree to what they passed in the house the next year, without even going to conference. so first the republicans in the house won't agree to negotiate on the budget unless we agree to their top priority -- no revenue increases. then republicans insist upon shutting down the government to stop obamacare. now this weekend the republicans have been saying they won't agree to reopen the government
4:19 pm
or lift the debt ceiling until democrats agree to the total spending level in the ryan budget. this is truly you think -- truly unprecedented. we heard republicans wanted democrats to produce a budget. we did. now they're doing everything in their power to avoid discussing our budget. but what is truly incredible is the republicans want the world to believe that democrats agreeing to a compromise for six weeks was an agreement to give up our entire budget for the whole next year. i don't know why the press is playing into this. i don't know why the press is doing this. they seem to be saying it's tit for tat. tit for tat. it's one side, it's the other. no, it's not. we agreed to six weeks. now the house is saying you must agree to it for a year.
4:20 pm
that was never a part of our budget that we sent to the house. so that's not a compromise. so, mr. president, i'll happily vote for a bill that extends the current levels for six weeks or so. we've already done that. we've already voted for that. the house wanted ten weeks. but i think the debate over whether to keep or change sequestration for the year, which is the entire debate between the senate and house budget resolutions is too important to be used as a bargaining chip for basic government operations. it should not be used as a bargaining chip. i didn't watch the sunday shows; rarely ever do. i always think i have better things to do on sunday than that. but i couldn't help but read the paper this morning, and there was a statement in the paper made by the senator from arizona, the senior senator from arizona. i guess he was on a talk show, and they were quoting him. i guess he said in the talk show
4:21 pm
something he said here on the floor. he said that -- this was senator mccain. he said that, "i guess we could have a lower -- we could go lower in the polls." he said right now we're down to blood relatives and paid staffers now. now that's kind of cute. that's kind of cute. then he went on to say. this is just a quote in the newspaper, so i don't know if he said it this way or not. this is what the newspaper reported. the senator said, "but we've got to turn this around and the democrats better help us." and the democrats better help us. what does that mean? they are the ones that shut the government down. as i said, there is a bill before the house right now that if the speaker put it on the floor, we'd open the government up. we passed that here. we helped them. we agreed to their level for six weeks. how much more help do they need?
4:22 pm
i must say also that the more i read about this and the print and watch the news programs, the more it becomes clear to me that there's an attitude being pushed by the republicans that if they agree to reopen the government and if they agreed to extend the debt limit, they're doing us democrats a favor. read between the lines. just see how that -- it's like they're doing us a big favor to do this, so, therefore, we have to give them all these concessions because they're doing us a favor. i tell my republican friends, you're not doing us democrats a favor whatsoever. you agree to reopen the government and extend the debt limit, you're doing the country a favor, the nation a favor. not the democrats. so get that out of your head
4:23 pm
that somehow because you're willing to do that, we have to give done sessions on something -- we have to give concessions on something else. we can talk about concessions and we can talk about sequestration and other budgets when we go to conference, if they'll let us go to conference. 19 times they've opposed us going to conference. but not, not talking about concessions now as a means of reopening government or extending the debt limit. that shouldn't even be a part of the equation. and somehow the press continues to try to report this as a legitimate -- a legitimate -- demand on the part of republicans. that if they want -- if we want to open the government, then they get to demand certain concessions. why is that legitimate? why is that legitimate?
4:24 pm
the legitimate thing for them is reopen the government, and it's very simple. mr. president, other people have come to the floor to talk about the impact of sequestration, and i thought i would just take a moment -- i did the other day and i will do it today and i will continue to do this to alert people as to what another year of sequestration would mean for programs that come under the jurisdiction of the labor, health, human services, education appropriations committee, which i have been privileged to chair or be the ranking member of since 1989. here's what would happen next year if we continue sequestration. 177,000 fewer children will get head start services. 177,000. maybe that's not your kid and it's not my grandkids, and probably nobody here. everybody here's got plenty of
4:25 pm
money. but it affects a lot of low-income families in this country. think about it, 177,000 fewer kids. 1.3 million fewer students would get title 1 education assistance. 1.3 million fewer students. no kids of anybody in this body or the house, none of our grandkids. we got plenty of money. but low-income families all across this country in urban areas as well as rural get title 1 assistance. 1.3 million fewer kids will get title 1 assistance. 760,000 fewer households will receive heating or cooling assistance under what we call the liheap program, the low-income heating energy assistance program. again won't affect anybody in this body, won't affect anybody in the house, probably none of our families. but it will affect 760,000
4:26 pm
households with an elderly person without much money, maybe just living off a social security check and nothing else special education. special education programs under the individuals with disabilities education act -- as you know, we fund a portion of that as it goes out to the states. well, by sequestration, the less money that we put out will mean 9,000 special education staff will be cut from our classrooms. i want to be clear about this. they may not be cut. maybe the states will come up with the money. maybe local taxpayers will come up with the money. i'm just saying that under sequestration we will not be paying for 9,000 special education teachers and staff. sequestration next year means $291 million less for child care
4:27 pm
subsidies for working families. again, these are families that go to work every day. many are single parents. the only way they can go to work -- these are low-paying jobs -- is to have some kind of child care subsidy which enables them to go to work every day. $291 million will be taken out of that. again, it won't affect anybody here. $2 billion less for the national institutes of health. $2 billion less. that's 1,300 fewer research grants next year. which one of those 1,300 grants will lead to breakthrough discoveries in medicine and cures? 1,300 fewer, $2 billion less for the national institutes of health. i also pointed out that we have a fraud and abuse program in
4:28 pm
medicare. it recovers $7.90 for every dollar that we appropriate. real money. now, a lot of that comes because of overcharges of drug companies. we've seen cases in wisconsin and a number of other states, huge settlements because the drug companies were overcharging. well, for every dollar that we put into that, we've recovered $7.90. because of the cut that will come through because of sequestration, we would lose about $2.7 billion next year in funds that we would assume that we would get back. aside from that, these drug companies know we won't have enough cops on the beat and that will be an excuse for them to go ahead and start overcharging again. so again, those are just a few of the things that will happen if we continue sequestration. you know, there are probably
4:29 pm
some on the other side that just don't care. well, for example, one member of the house republican caucus -- that's representative michele bachmann -- when the government shut down, she said -- and i quote -- "we're very excited. it's exactly what we wanted, and we got it." then there's representative kulverson, who reportedly said it's wonderful. we're 100% excited. what are they excited? sequestration. hundreds of thousands of low-income kids not getting head start. hundreds of thousands of low- income families not getting their heating program. they're excited special education teachers will be cut. they're excited about this. this is their vision of america. one tea party member, they had some big gathering here in washington the last few days, and i just happened to be
4:30 pm
reading about it, and there was one woman there. she was talking to a reporter and said, "we need to go back to the late 1800's in this country, when we grew our own vegetables." i thought to myself, fine, if you want to, you can do that. there's nothing restricting her from going out and living without electricity or running water, health care. she can go find a cabin someplace in the woods, i suppose, have a little plot of land, grow her vegetables, do her own canning. you can do that if you'd like. but why does she want to insist that we all do that? i don't think too many people want to go back to the late 1800's in this country. think what life was like then. child labor. people working 60, 70 hours a week. no minimum wages. no social security. no medicare. no education for a lot of low-income kids.
4:31 pm
if you had money, you were fine. diseases rampant, polio, measles, rampant, small pox. anyway, so that's the late 1800's. that's what the tea party, they want to go back to that. they keep this hew and cry up about that, about things have gotten out of hand. no, things haven't gotten out of hand. we're a big country. we're a big nation, and powerful, big. we have a lot of economic assets. we have a lot of human assets too. and we have to take care not just about the economic assets but our human assets as well. there are no economic assets without human assets and so we need to invest in our people and not listen to those who want to turn the clock back to the 1800's. but that's what sequestration would start to do. it would start to turn the clock
4:32 pm
back, oh, maybe not to the 1800's -- i don't want to exaggerate -- but certainly, certainly before the great society and certainly probably even before the new deal. and they do want to get rid of social security, you know. they do want to get rid of medicare. well, i guess it was grover norquist, sort of their patron saint, who said once, "we want to reduce the size of the government so small we can drowned it in the bathtub." hmm, that's what they want. that's their vision of america. that's their vision of our future. so, mr. president, i'm hoping that we do reach some agreements and we can get out of this, but -- but the republicans have dug themselves in this hole. not us. and now they say they want us to help them. we already have. we passed a bill, sent it to the house to open the government. we now have before us, as we did on saturday, a bill to extend
4:33 pm
the debt limit without strings attached until december of 2014. every single republican voted against even going to that bill to even discuss it on saturday. and, you know, i opened the newspapers on sunday to read about this and there's very little talk about that. is there something i missed? did we not have a vote here on saturday on a motion to proceed to raising the debt limit for one year? just to go to the bill, so we could discuss it, people could offer amendments. and every single republican voted against even going to that bill to even discuss it. well, we've thrown plenty of lifelines out there, but if by help, if that's what the senior senator from arizona meant by help, that we have to give up on everything in terms of our budget and sequestration, all that other stuff, that's
4:34 pm
nonsense. mr. president, i made a -- i made a -- a counterproposal. said i said, look, if they're gg to start putting all that stuff in there on conditions, we ought to start putting some conditions on there too. if they want some help, how about raising the minimum wage right now? now, that would be something we could do. wouldn't that be neat? they want to reopen the government, they want to extend the debt ceiling, let's raise the minimum wage right now for people in this country. i'd -- i'd put that on the table right now. i'd put on the table that we need to put more money into special education to help our local taxpayers. and more money certainly into early childhood education. maybe those are the things we ought to put on the table, saying if you want help, agree to these things. but i won't go there. but if they continue to push this idea, the republicans
4:35 pm
continue to push this idea that somehow we have to capitulate on everything else, then i think we just throw these things on the table and say, okay, you want us to agree to that? you agree to that. and we'll have a little tit-for-tat on that and see how far that goes. that's why this whole talk about giving up on sequestration and budget matters is a no non-star. open the government, it's very simple, extend the debt limit, it's very simple, and then let's go to conference and talk about. this that's the way out of this. that's the real adult, democratically, with a small "d," way out of this mess. and i call upon republicans not to do us a favor, do the country a favor. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
4:36 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the junior senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, in just three days, barring some action by congress, the treasury department of the united states, for preventing default on this nation's debts for the first time in our history. setting off a chain of economic
4:37 pm
events that will be felt around the world and by every family and business and state and community in our country. we've heard a great deal, mr. president, on this floor the last few days about how we arrived at this point and who's to blame, and there's a lot of concern and consternation about exactly who owns this and how we got here. i'm not going to spend time today on that. i'm going to skip the politics and the drama for now and just talk about the facts and the policy. i just want to talk to delawareans about what would happen if we actually go over this impending cliff, if we do default and which of the options for addressing this are viable. first, let's be clear about what we're even talking about. what is the debt ceiling? defaulting on our debt by failing to raise the debt ceiling is not the same as cutting up america's credit cards. it's not the same as denying the president the right to sign more
4:38 pm
checks into the future. raising the debt ceiling does not give congress or the president a blank check to spend more money. it allows the united states to borrow more money, yes, but only to pay bills for goods and services already incurred, to meet pledges already made. we've had some kind of a national debt ceiling since 1917, when congress allowed the treasury department to issue long-term liberty bonds to pay for the first world war. over the course of the next two decades, caps were placed on other kinds of debt as well,and finally ifinallyfinally in 1939s decided to place a ceiling on the total ability of debt the country could have. the last time congress raced this debt ceiling -- raced this debt ceiling -- raised this debt ceiling, it was i want to $6.999 trillion. and technically we reached that on may 19 of this year. the treasury department has since been using what it calls
4:39 pm
extraordinary measures to keep paying our bills. but as secretary lew has communicated to this congress over and over in letter and in testimony, in just a few days, the treasury department will no longer have enough money to keep up, these extraordinary measures will have run out. and within a week or two later, we will end up at zero. so what are the bills? what are the bills that we need to raise this ceiling in order to pay? well, it's the salaries of all federal employees, including our military; it's social security and medicare payments; it's unemployment benefits; tax refunds; and interest on our sovereign debt. raising the debt limit allows the treasury to borrow the money it needs to pay these bills. that's. -- that's it. if on any particular day more bills come due than we have cash in our accounts to cover, then the united states of america will default on some or all of its obligations. and that day is coming and coming quickly. and, frankly, we cannot threat
4:40 pm
happen. for decades, investors have bought u.s. debt because it was seen as a sure thing, a safe investment. when people buy a treasury bill, a t-bill, they do so because they know they're going to earn interest on one of the safest investments in the world. american debt is considered unimpeachable. that's what makes the dollar the reserve currency for much of the world, something that benefits every american company and community and family in ways that are hard to see but cumulatively powerful. the absolute certain that we will repay our national debtsment so who -- national debts. so who's are these investors sphwh who are these folks who buy these t-bills? some are everyday americans. a lot of retirees invest in these bonds because they're such a safe bet. some invests are governments of the other nation who look to the u.s. as such a good investment that they tie their financial stability to ours.
4:41 pm
so when it starts to look like congress won't live up to that standard, won't take the steps necessary to pay all of our bills on time and might actually default on some of our debts and transform us into a deadbeat nation, it makes investors really nervous. just the talk of defaulting on our debt sends shock waves through our economy and through the markets. for proof, we need only look back to august of 2011 when congress last brought the nation to the brink of default. although we didn't cross the line, just the talk of it, the mere possibility that we might for the first time default, had an array of consequences. first, it slowed job growth and led to an increase in part -- excuse me, in part-time employment. second, consumer confidence in our economy fell. consumer confidence, the index of consumer confidence as a reliable indicator of americans' willingness to spend money and fuel our economic growth. we want consumers buying products at their local scores and helping keep people employed, right? well, the index was already on ththe negative, the pessimistic
4:42 pm
side of the line when this latest crisis began, but fell substantially since the start of the government shutdown. instability and uncertainty reduces consumer confidence and takes money out of our economy. third, the yield of our treasury wilbills had to increase in ordr to prop up deman. as u.s. -- demand. as u.s. debt becomes perceived as riskier, we have to incentivize investors by increasing what we will pay them, the potential yield. that means taxpayers have to pay more in order to compensate. the debate in 2011 will in the end cost taxpayers an additional $19 billion in interest over the coming decade. let me say that again. just the debate as we ran up to the possibility of default in 2011 added $19 billion in debt service costs to the bonds that were issued in the days and months after. the credit rating agency, standard & poor's, one of the big three, lowered the united states credit rating, causing markets to drop 5% in a single
4:43 pm
day and 17% over the course of that crisis. it was one of the worst declines in the equity markets in history and was only because we talked about defaulting. so just threatening to default is terrible for our economy in all these four different ways. financial analysts across the world have said congress is already causing potentially lasting damage to the strength of the dollar just by repeatedly threatening to default. said one -- quote -- "there's a negative confidence shot rippling through the economy and foreign investors have taken fright at developments in washington. " said another -- quote -- "a u.s. government default is not a zero probability event anymore. although it remains very unlikely, a low probability but very high impact event, like u.s. default, is naturally making investors cautious." so we simply can't afford this talk. we can't let our nation default. what happens if we do? what would actually happen if we get to the end of this week and
4:44 pm
have not resolved this crisis? and i'm encouraged by rumors of some resolution. i'm encouraged that there are negotiations and conversations going on. but i think we need to look in a clear-eyed way about what happens should default actually occur. well, for starters it's important to say we don't really know. the situation's never been this bad before and the united states has never defaulted on its debt. here's what the managing director of the international monetary fund said this weekend. quote -- "if there is that degree of disruption, that lack of certainty, that lack of trust in the u.s. signature, it would mean massive disruption the world over and we should at risk of tipping yet again into global recession." mr. president, we simply can't afford that. let me share with you another quote from history, from president ronald reagan, who back in 198 3 had this to say about the potential threat of default and its impact on our economy. president reagan said --
4:45 pm
quote -- "the full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of a default by the united states are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. denigration of the full faith and credit of the united states would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of 9 of te dollar." as that was true back in 1983, so it is true again today, and the comments from the head of the i.m.f. and from a whole array of economists and bankers this past week remind us of the simple and enduring truth -- that the modern era has been one where the dollar has been the reserve currency for the world and where the strength of the american market has been critical to the strength of the american nation, our communities and our economy,, and frankly, to put that -- economy, and, frankly, to put that at risk over short-term political differences is reckless, indeed. what we know is that we'll wake up on friday, this coming frid friday, with about $30 billion in the federal government's being. this is according to treasury
4:46 pm
secretary lew. what we don't know is how long it will last. and the moment we can't pay one of our bills, we will default. that's what's known as the "x" date. the government will still collect rev hugh but it won't be enough -- revenue but it won't be enough to keep pace with our daily bills. over the last year, the government collected an average of $7.5 billion a day and spent an average of $9. billio7 billia day. that means about $2.2 billion short on our bills every day if we aren't borrowing to make up the difference. analysts at the bipartisan policy center suggest we'll run out on roughly october 2. look at the bills that start stacking up at that point. to be clear, part of why we don't know exactly what date this would occur is because money flows into the federal treasury at uneven rates and it flows out at uneven rates. so let's just look at a few of the bills that are about to come due in the next few weeks. on october 23, $12 billion in
4:47 pm
social security benefits are due. on october 28, $3 billion in federal salaries would go unpaid. on october 30, another $2 billion this time in medicaid payments are due. on october 31, halloween, $6 billion in interest payments on our sovereign debt are due . on november 1, $58 billion in medicare, social security, and s.s.i. payments as well as veterans benefits and military pay. well, these are just the major bills. there's thousands, even millions of smaller payments that are due from every agency and entity of the federal government that go up and down, day in and day out, and where our failure to pay in a timely fashion while technically not default on our son of debt would put in question or ability and willingness as a government to pay our bills when due. with what we've left, we won't be able to pay them all and will be in violation of the 14th amendment to the constitution which says the debt of the united states shall not be
4:48 pm
questioned. if we haven't raised the debt ceiling by this thursday, we are likely to see disturbing losses in global markets. we've already start to see them as uncertainty takes over and volatility begins to spread. investors have already mulling - pulling money oust our t-bills. stock prices will soon begin to drop in the absence of some progress. deutsche bank predicted the s&p 500 will fall by a staggering 45% if we default. and we heard loud and clear when we met with the rating agencies after the 2011 incident that they will almost lower the credit rating of the united states. with the nation pressed up against its debt ceiling and future payments uncertain, invests will be hesitant to buy nor t-bills everybody. the objectio toxicity will spreo bonds and investors will demand
4:49 pm
higher yields which will cost our country more over time. this is what happened in 23011 when we merely flirted with default. right now the dollar is the world's reserve currency. instd of keeping their money in cash, other nations buy our debt in order to get interest without risk. america has been a great investment. defaulting would cause other nations to sell our debt, then sell our dollars, wakessenning our dollars against foreign currencies and raising the cost of every good imported. if treasury rates go up just one percentage point it would add over $1 trillion to tower debt service costs. anything we've saved because of sequestration would be gone and there's no -- to think that it would add $2 trillion to $3 trillion to our debt over the next decade. this also affects everyone in our community and our country from large to small from companies to communities to families when treasury interest rates go up, your interest rates
4:50 pm
go up, mortgage rates, auto loafntion, student loans, business loans all go up and they can go up fast. default would make it harder for all of us to use credit responsibly and as consumers would buy less, business profits would fall, g.d.p. would fall and the nation again would enter a recession. defaulting on our debt would be an unimaginable drag on the economic health of our country, communities and families and we cannot let it havment mr. president, i see that my colleague, senator mikulski, has joined me here on the floor. if i might with her forebearance, i will take a few minutes to review just a few points here and then yield to her. ms. mikulski: i am happy to yield -- to have the gentleman from delaware continue, the newest member of the appropriations committee. i think you're articulating something that everyone needs to understand. i'm happy to await my turn. mr. coons: thank you. i am briefly going to touch on
4:51 pm
what are our options. because we've heard -- all of us have heard on this floor senators suggest that default is really not that big a deal. that we're not really going to gault, that there's other ways around this and we needn't be scared into making some hurried deal and that at the end of the day several senators have accused the president of fearmongering, have accused my party of suggesting that default is a major threat to our country and economy when in fact it is not. let me briefly touch on the options that have been discussed by other senators, frankly, to my surprise. first, some have suggested we can pay our bills, not when they're due but when we have the money, sort of a first-come, first-serving payment aetch pro. so let's say we ran out of money on the 20th of this month and couldn't pay our bills on the 21st. by the 23rd we'd have enough money but go delinquent on
4:52 pm
bills. payments would being delinquent and the united states would fall back on its debt. this option would only make our situation worse. we would keep adding over $billion this debt every single day while going delinquent on our bills to americans. second way forward -- some have suggested friersing some bills but ignore others. the treasury department would continue to make payments on our sovereign debt so the chinese would get pairksd but they would avoid or default on lots and lots of other obligations. which payments would we dmoos this body mott to make? social security? medicare? military salaries? payments for cancer research? veterans' benefits? air traffic controllers? who goes first and who do you possibly choose? these are the ludicrous sorts of choices that have been sent us to by the other chamber as they have attempted to fund the government in piecemeal slices in the past week. the treasury department makes 100 million payments per month
4:53 pm
making this a logistical night maimplet if we prioritize our payments, it is not a question of if we go into default, the question is when. this would push ug back into recession and would still be defaulting own our obligations and the markets and the credit rating agencies would know it. the other thing that's g.n.p. ug been suggested is to work around the debt ceiling. there is a whole lot of creatable ideas, minting a $1 trillion coin, a fire sale of u.s. assets, superpremium treasuries. each one has pros and cons i won't go into now but they would face legal scrutiny and would increase uncertainty in the markets. there is no better option than to reopen the government, pay our national debt on time, raise the debt ceiling, and honor our obligations as a country p.
4:54 pm
that's the forth and only good option, to pay our bills, to prevent default, to put a floor under our economy, to stop these games and to stop suggestioning that there's any way out of this other than doing our jobs, preserving the triple-a credit rating of this country and making this country worthy of global respect again. mr. president, in conclusion, i can't believe -- i can't believe that members in this chamber who had the chance to avoid default on saturday voted in a way that suggested they chose not to, not only did it rattle me, it rattled the markets. the idea thew a son of government would have the ability to pay its debts but actively choose not to is unprecedent. it cannot be allowed to havment we cannot allow this country to become a bad investment. we will not become a deadbeat nation. we need to pay our bills, dot right thing and avoid default. mr. president, it is time we stopped playing games and did right by the american people. with that, i yield the floor.
4:55 pm
i look forward to the comments of the senior senator from maimpletmaryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i speak -- have permission to speak up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president, there is a misguided myth out there -- all myths -- not all myths are misguided, but this myth is the fact that there are those that will be that government shutdown is actually saving us money. i'm not going to go into all those details why that's not true, but i can tell you one area where a government shutdown is absolutely being negatively
4:56 pm
impacted in protecting the taxpayer dollar and fulfilling the mission of the agency, particularly in social security, medicare, and veterans benefits and some others. mr. president, you were an attorney general of the ocean state, rhode island. you know -- and you were also a u.s. attorney. you know about scammers and schemers. you know that where there's need, there's greed. and where there are large government programs, they're open to either waste, but particularly fraud. now, i have been an adamant opponent of fraud and often that's dismissed, like, oh, everybody says you're against fraud, but what are we doing about it? well, mr. chairman, let me say this: as the chairperson of the appropriations committee, i have
4:57 pm
insisted at every one of my hearings, that there be an inspector general testifying, an inspector general viesing we appropriators who actually put money in the federal checkbook about how we can stop fraud in our own government. i am the first chairman of that committee ever to institute that process where we take the watchdogs of our congress -- excuse meshing th me, the watchn our federal spending -- the watchdogs of our federal spending very seriously. the watchdogs who protect taxpayers' funds are known as inspectors general. they're independently appointed, independently confirmed, and independently do their job. look at the inspector general for i.r.s. that brought a national scandal to our attention. but guess what, mr. president? in this shutdown, the ability of
4:58 pm
inspectors general to root out fraud and abuse has been severely compromised. we're not catching criminals who are trying to get a quick buck off the back of taxpayers. let me give you an example. the social security administration has furloughed 250 investigators and auditors in the office of the inspector general. this is crippling the inspector general's ability to investigate allegations of fraud and to detect improper payments in social security. just recently headlines have made the news about fraud in west virginia field offices in social security where judges and others who were administering the program, administrative judges were taking kickbacks.
4:59 pm
thanks to law enforcement in the inspector general, we've got that. we've grabbed that. do you realize, mr. president, that there are dork there were actually people in federal prisons using the internet, created phony identities to get both taxpayer refunds and also social security checks? thanks to inspectors general being on the job, we were able to nip that in the bud. each year the social security inspector general receives 135,000 allegations of fraud and abuse. last year the inspector general at the social security program saved the program $500 million, a half a billion dollars, saved in fraud at the social security administration. but instead of pinning medals on
5:00 pm
people, we have furloughed them. they're sitting at home waiting, itching for back on the job because they're so proud of what they do. they believe that social security is a sacred trust, and anybody who tries to scheme or scam the system, they are going to come after them. during the normal operations, social security inspector general saves $9 for every $1 spent in oversight. let's look at some of the other agencies. let's go to something different like the department of agriculture. now, every minute of this shutdown, taxpayer dollars are being lost to fraud. if we look at the department of agriculture, last year their inspector general investigated 321 possible frauds. they conducted 76 audits.
5:01 pm
guess what it resulted in. 800 indictments. 800 indictments who were trying to scam various aspects of the department of agriculture, including food stamp fraud. of the 800 indictments, they got 538 convictions, and guess what? they saved our federal government $1.5 billion. mr. president, $1.5 billion. 800 indictments. 540 convictions. those inspector generals -- the inspector general office at the department of agriculture is on furlough. a minimal number of investigators are on the job. all of the agriculture inspector
5:02 pm
general's audit staff is furloughed. that's not wise use of the taxpayer dollars. now, let's go to the v.a. the v.a. inspector general's office has furloughed 70% of its staff. the v.a. operates the largest integrated hospital system in the country. 152 hospitals. 1,000 clinics. the -- and it operates a mortgage program, it operates an educational voucher program, it operates a disability claims and survivor benefit. their inspector general routinely audits this complex system, and what do they look for? possible criminal activity? they look for fraud. they make sure there is no misconduct by senior v.a. officials, and they are doing their job but they have been
5:03 pm
furloughed. when we go to the general service administration, that's essentially the real estate arm of the federal government. it plays a crucial role. guess what? then last year they handled 450 cases. they got 3,000 hotline complaints about possible fraud. their staff is on furlough. so they are not looking out for fraud and real estate, automobile leasing, technology, gaming the system and furniture. their cases range from bribery to embezzlement to kickback schemes. most of the -- 90% -- 99% of our g.s.a. employees are honest, so are our contractors. but guess what?
5:04 pm
in just six months alone, in october, 2012, to march, 2013, they were able to crack down and recover over $100 million in schemes and scams. look at what i have outlined already, a couple of billion dollars. social security, agriculture, g.s.a. they are on the job. i could go agency after agency. and guess what? the very agency that involves -- that involves us and advises us is the general accounting office. -- is the government accountability office. that is congress' watchdog. that is where we ask for studies on how we could do a better job and where they identify programs that are dated, duplicative or dysfunctional. dated, duplicative or dysfunctional. if they are dated, goodbye to them. if they are dysfunctional,
5:05 pm
reform or goodbye. dysfunctional. so dated, dysfunctional and duplicative. that's our mantra in the appropriations committee. we are the guardians of the purse, but we need our tool. the government accountability office that we really rely on has furloughed 98% of its staff. i could elaborate on agency after agency, but what i want to show is just this. the consequences of shutdown are affecting people. if they are not on the job, they are not doing the job. the job of our inspector general offices, independent. they are supposed to come with incredible fiscal back ground, their investigators, their auditors, their people who have to know how to find a problem, see if it's criminal or civil, whether we can get our money back and whether we make sure it
5:06 pm
doesn't happen again. those people want to work, they love their job. it's a calling to them. we need to call them up and say you're back to work. so let's reopen government. let's find a way. let's fund government at a level that makes sure it can function the way it should. let's also pay our debts. i do not want our t bills to become junk bonds. i do not want our t bills to be so shaky in terms of our ability to pay back that they arrive at a junk bond status. so let's get rid of junk politics and junk talking points. let's get those clunkers off the road. let's get america rolling again, pay our bills, honor our t bills. let's get government working and let america be america again. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will
5:07 pm
proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations which the clerk will report. the clerk: nominations, the judiciary, and rea r. wood of illinois to be united states district judge for the northern district of illinois. madeline hughes haikala of alabama to be united states district judge for the northern district of alabama. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be 30 minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form. the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i notice it's 5:07. i doubt very much if we will use the 30 minutes. we will probably be able to yield back time so that the vote can be at 5:30, although i'm not making that request at this moment. you know, listening to the distinguished chair of the appropriations committee, the senior senator from maryland, i had to agree with everything she was saying.
5:08 pm
this is the 14th day of the government shutdown. by refuseing to pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the operations of our federal government, republicans are actually threatening the critical functioning of all three branches of our government. we have a handful of ideologues in the house of representatives who are holding the entire judicial system hostage. the judicial system is supposed to be independent. they don't get involved in politics or these games, but we have more than 90 judicial vacancies. 39 have been designated as emergency vacancies due to high caseloads by the totally nonpartisan administrative office of the court. we're going to vote on two additional judges today. then we'll only have 88 judicial
5:09 pm
vacancies. far more than needed. far more than needed. these are excellent nominees. both andrea woods and madeline haikala, excellent. a record that most people would aspire to. report yet that they are willing to come, but even that's taken too long, even though they came through our committee unanimously. well, let me tell you another thing that has happened. this afternoon, i got a call from the chief judge of the district of vermont, the federal district court. judge rice is a superb judge, trial judge. i have no idea what her politics are. i just know that i recommended
5:10 pm
her to the president. i recommended her as the best out of a list of sterling candidates. but she wanted me to know that they are going to run out of funds on thursday, and she is very worried about the growing opiate crisis in vermont. if they run out of money, they're not going to be able to monitor and test those awaiting trials on serious drug trafficking. judge rice made it very clear, you could have heard this from courts all over the country. we forget that there are things that these courts have to do and should do to keep you safer and me safer and everybody else. we're saying sorry, we're having this little political snit here and we're not going to give you the money.
5:11 pm
mr. president, i have always been proud of being a member of the vermont bar. when i became a member, i was the youngest lawyer in our state. i am proud of that membership. during the time i was in private practice and during the time i was a prosecutor. but throughout it all, we always relied on the courts to do their work. we expected that if after giddian vs. wainwright, it was necessary to nominate -- or get counsel for a defendant, the counsel would be there. we expected that if you had a case that you want heard, there would be a court that could hear it. now that's not happening. we're going to have criminal cases, they are going to get backed up because we don't have the personnel there, and behind
5:12 pm
those criminal cases are going to be people, republicans, democrats, independents who are going to have legitimate cases to go to court and they are going to be blocked. mr. president, we now have china, china saying well, we can't rely on the united states, their currency, their system of government. basically, they are saying we should look to china as a model. some of these people will go down and have a disturbing and disgraceful rally on the mall where they ridicule the president of the united states, when they distort their own roles in how they closed down the government, when they try to use brave veterans as pawns, do they realize what they are doing to the image of the united states nationwide?
5:13 pm
mr. president, i see the distinguished senator from illinois on the floor. one of these judges is his. i don't know if he wishes to speak. i would ask consent my full statement be placed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and i would say once more all americans who rely on our court and our judicial system know they are facing a great danger and our system of justice is facing a great danger, not because of anything the courts have done but because a small group of activists in the house of representatives are holding this budget hostage. i yield the floor. i suggest -- i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:14 pm
5:15 pm
quorum call:
5:16 pm
5:17 pm
5:18 pm
5:19 pm
5:20 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on